Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Battling Brachycephaly: The Adventures of a Helmet Baby

As many of you know, a little over a week ago, we were finally given the go ahead to say goodbye to Brody's helmet forever! For as nervous as I was to remove this orthotic helmet that doubled as a safety device, Brody did wonderful during the transition. It only took him a couple goose eggs to learn that he can no longer bang his head against the wall/crib/high chair to make that "cool noise." I'm so excited to finally be able to kiss his adorable little face and head without fear of a busted nose or fat lip.

As popular as these helmets have gotten since the 1994 "Back to Sleep" campaign, I was somewhat surprised how ill-informed most people were about "helmet babies." Listening to other parent's responses when their own children asked them about Brody's helmet was pretty priceless sometimes.

"That baby just isn't learning as fast as other babies." 

"Oh, he just gets hurt a lot so his mommy has to make him wear a helmet."

Goodness. There were other times when people would really stare Brody down, but A.) who cares, and B.) he's adorable, so why wouldn't they want to check out his perfect little face? ;)

We made the decision to get Brody fitted for a helmet back on May 15 this year. His flat spot was very noticeable the second he was born and it just became most prominent over the next few months. I chalk it up to a combination of a very long, difficult birth, the use of forceps and the fact that he slept on his back for 10-12 hours straight through from the beginning. Regardless, it needed to be taken care of.

Brody was referred to the specialists at Mary Free Bed, and thankfully, they have an office with a STARband scanner right here in Holland. The staff was wonderful to work with and extremely helpful when it came to dealing with insurance and referrals.

Brody's official diagnosis was Brachycephaly with Plagiocephaly... which loosely translates to the back of his head was flat. (Learn about the different types here.) As you can see, the scan shows the shape of Brody's head on May 15 and October 10. (Imagine looking down on the top of his head and the dates are near his forehead.) Because we were diligent about not exceeding the hour Brody could go without his helmet every day, the sides of his head did not grow, only the front and back filled out.

We were most concerned with his Cephalic Ratio. Brody was originally over 96% (0.962) and "normal/ideal" was considered anything below 90%. His last scan put him right at 90% (0.901). There's still a small flat ridge towards the top of his head, but our Othotist assured me that there's a good chance it'll still fill out on it's own and wearing the helmet any longer wouldn't produce any more noticeable change.

For all you other parents of helmet babies who can't read this gibberish either, I tracked down an explanation:

  • Cephalic Ratio: Cranial Breadth/Cranial Length. An ideal ratio would be 0.78 or 78%
  • Radial Symmetry Index (RSI): From the front of the head, 15° segments are measured and added. The addition of the right side segments is subtracted to the addition of the left side segments. An ideal ratio would be left side – right side = 0
  • Oblique Cranial maximum and minimum: Ideally one is looking to have the maximum line vertical and the minimum line horizontal.
  • Oblique at 30 deg (US1 and US2): Length of diagonal taken at 30° on each side (30° corresponds to the corner of the eye). The subtraction of US1 and US2 gives an indication of the asymmetry of the head. An asymmetry bet. 0 and 10 mm is classified as mild, bet 10 and 16 mm medium and over 16mm severe.
  • Q1, Q2, Q3, Q4 volumes: Draws vertical and horizontal lines centered on middle point of head. Measures volume of each corner starting front left, then front right, back right and back left.
  • Anterior Symmetry Ratio: Looks at front of head and divides front left volume with front right volume. An ideal ratio would be 1.
  • Posterior Symmetry Ratio: Looks at back of head and divides back right volume with back left volume. An ideal ration would be 1.
  • Overall Symmetry Ratio: Divides left side with right side. An ideal ratio would be 1.
  • Upper facial left and upper facial right: Measures the length between the centre of the front to each left and right ear. This corresponds to a cranial bone and determines the position of the ear.
  • Upper Facial Symmetry Ratio: Divides Upper Facial Right with Upper Facial Left. An ideal ratio would be 1.

I loved Brody's little do rag for scans. LoL. He's so street.

Brody did phenomenal the entire helmet process. The initial transition phase takes 5 days to get his head accustomed to wearing the helmet. He never even knew he had it on. He even fell asleep with it on the very first day. It was only towards the end that he would reach up and occasionally tug at it. The helmet also turned into a little game. We would stick toys in the cutout area on top and he'd laugh and shake his head until they fell out. So adorable.

Unfortunately, I don't have any fantastic shots of the back of Brody's head before the helmet. I would definitely recommend investing in a helmet if your child is diagnosed with a form of Plagiocephaly. Because there isn't the awareness and a lack of literature, most believe this is simply a cosmetic issue with doctors playing the vanity card. Left untreated, Plagiocephaly can compromise the functions of the ears, eyes, and jaw along with elevated risk of cognitive and motor delays. I can honestly say the helmet was not nearly as scary as I had imagined and it has made a world of difference in just 19 weeks.

Now it's time to catch up on the millions of kisses his little face and head have been missing out on.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Sunshine Friday

Sometimes... life is a little rough. Those days where it's a struggle to climb out of that debilitating funk and refocus attention towards the positive. We've all had 'em. As a working mom, I know I have less than 7 miles to tune out all the negativity from whatever may have happened earlier that day and get into happy mommy mode. Even though Brody is my own little ball of sunshine and always capable of bringing a smile to my face, my Friday posts are now dedicated to recapping all the moments during the week that made my life a little brighter...

1. Brody's little noggin is helmet-free! I'll have all the details on the blog hopefully this weekend, but for now, I'm catching up on the millions of kisses his perfect little face and head have been missing out on.

2. I participated in my first blog giveaway this week with my cousin Laura over at Relatively Offbeat. A $100 Sephora e-gift card is still up for grabs until the 21st. Head on over and enter to win!

3. Lil Man is becoming so much more independent lately. Tear. He is actually playing with his toys for longer periods of time and is really fascinated by moving parts. I'm so glad to see him focus on real toys rather than all the things he shouldn't be playing with...

3. these damn rocks. Kid is obsessed with them. Some days I go hide them in the closet. Other days... whatever floats his boat.

4. Brody's 5th tooth is working its way through right now. So the other night when he was cranky and Zora had a ton of energy, I decided to take my chances with Mother Nature and go for a walk. Of course, when we were at the furthest point from the house, it started down pouring. Naturally. So I kicked off my sandals that were one step away from the band completely ripping, threw them in the bottom of the stroller and started sprinting the mile back home. So if anyone in the area saw a lady in cut off sweatpants and a winter fleece with a dog and stroller running through the neighborhood, in the rain, barefoot like some kind of hobo... yeah, that was me. Brody slept through the entire thing and it stopped raining as soon as we hit the driveway. Of course.

5. Then there are the days I run out of ideas on how to keep him happy, so we stroll through Walmart and people watch for awhile. This activity will most definitely have to stop someday when he can verbally express how he feels about the trainwrecks we come across.

6. Last weekend, the weather was beautiful so I decided to take down a couple of pine trees that were shading an area where grass was sparse. One of the trees, I pushed over one-handed. Yikes... that was probably one windstorm away from destroying my fence. Zora was super excited about the "big stick" I cut down for her. She slowly drug the tree across the yard until I could get the chainsaw hooked up. Then as I cut the tree into pieces and clipped off the branches, she took all the pieces and left them around the yard. So helpful.

7. This video cracks me up. Miss Nutters, the one-eyed cat dog, also is a bed stealer. Zora and Zayla just stare at her plopped down in the middle of their big beds, sigh and walk away. 

8. Oreos are as addictive as cocaine. This would explain my almost 50 pound pregnancy weight gain. However, I didn't need a study to tell me that... those two empty rows staring back at me after one sitting communicated pretty well that I have a problem. My name is Andrea and I am an addict.

9. Although things have been incredibly busy and hectic lately, I'm wrapping up this week on a high note. Cheers to taking chances. Have a wonderful weekend everyone!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Black Friday Preparation | $100 Sephora Giveaway

The countdown is on. Only 46 more days until Black Friday and the official Christmas shopping season. Yikes! If you're anything like me, you detest searching through the picked over shelves and fighting a vicious crowd, so instead, opt to shop early and shop smart. In preparation for the holiday rush, I'd like to share with you my tips for how I get ready for the big shopping day so that I can be quick and efficient.

Make lists. Know who you have to shop for, what you're going after and where it's located.

Shop with a buddy. Black Friday is often stressful... so bring along a friend who can help make the day more enjoyable!

Divide up your list. If you only have one thing to get in a particular store, ask a member of your group to grab it for you if she's going to stand in line for her stuff anyways.

Compare current and future sale prices. If a Black Friday sale isn't completely wow-ing you and you can get that item for close to the same price during a normal sale, don't waste your time.

Be familiar with price-match and return policies. If you can eliminate a stop by price-matching elsewhere, by all means.

Check printed and digital ads. Do your homework. Be like those extreme couponers and research the crap out of everything.

Shop early for deals and coupons. Take advantage of Black Friday sales available online. Companies are offering up some fantastic deals NOW, so don't wait! Be sure to check out coupon codes while these offers are still available.

Pack light. Don't carry around a super heavy purse. I'm sure you'll have enough bags to deal with.

And now for the super fun part.... $100 Sephora e-gift card giveaway! Just use the rafflecopter below to enter. The giveaway starts today and will end October 21. Good luck and thanks for stopping by!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Practical Bathroom Cleaning + Organizing Tips

My family and I don't live in a Pinterest-esque house with hidden playrooms behind armoires, waterfall shower heads installed in the ceiling next to the tub built around a fireplace or a lawn that Better Homes and Gardens would drool over. We live in a modest house... with a modest bathroom... with toothpaste spit on the mirror, a dog who clogs the drain after every bath and a billion bath toys for a kid who only plays with two of them.

I'd like to think of this as reality for most of us. I try to keep our modest little bathroom functional and organized the best I can, but let's face it... people have a lot of stuff. With that said, let me take you on a little journey around my bathroom and show you how I keep it clean and organized.


1. My shower unit used to be disgusting. Turns out you don't need expensive cleaners to cut through all the grime build up. Spray down you tub/shower with distilled white vinegar, wait a few minutes, then scrub using a stiff brush and baking soda. My shower looks just like new.


2. In between heavy duty cleanings, give your tub a light scrub with a 50/50 mixture of distilled white vinegar and Dawn dish soap stored inside the handle of a scrub brush. Just a quick scrub a couple times a week while you're in the shower eliminates the need to do a power clean more than a couple times a year.

3. Use a 3M heavy duty hook to hang your shower caddy on the opposite side of the shower away from the faucet to keep things dry and out of the way.


4. Fabric shower curtain liners are machine washable -- clean and eco-friendly!


5. If you have little ones, then you probably have way too many bathtub toys! A curtain rod, some plastic shower hooks and cheap crates from the dollar store keep toys off the floor and allows them to completely drip dry. We hung ours at the top of the shower unit and as long as we keep the baskets to the very front and back, we have no problem hitting them with our elbows.


6. Pump bottles from the dollar store can free up a hand when giving babies/kids a bath. The larger sizes can also often store double the liquid in order to cut down on inventory.



7. Utilize desk organizers for makeup and other smaller toiletries!


8. Don't forget about the dollar store and all their organizing products! Lazy susans, shoe boxes and baskets keep your space clutter free and organized. We also use separate baskets for children and adult medication in our medicine drawer to avoid any confusion.



9. Plastic crates can especially be a lifesaver for the vertically challenged with tall cupboards. By grouping soaps, lotions and other alike items in crates, they can be pulled down together and not shoved to the back of the shelf.


10. Utilize old magazine racks to store blow dryers, flat/curling irons, etc.


11. You know that magnetic paper clip thing you never use at work? It works wonders for bobby pins!



12. Keep a bottle of all-purpose cleaner, a rag, window cleaner and paper towels in the bathroom at all times. A spare second to wipe down the countertop or mirror could save you time on cleaning day.


13. If your family never knows where anything is (or you just compulsively move stuff around all the time), labels are your friend.


Go forth. Kick off your Fall cleaning with a super tidy bathroom!

Friday, October 11, 2013

Sunshine Friday

Sometimes... life is a little rough. Those days where it's a struggle to climb out of that debilitating funk and refocus attention towards the positive. We've all had 'em. As a working mom, I know I have less than 7 miles to tune out all the negativity from whatever may have happened earlier that day and get into happy mommy mode. Even though Brody is my own little ball of sunshine and always capable of bringing a smile to my face, my Friday posts are now dedicated to recapping all the moments during the week that made my life a little brighter...

1. Lil Man took a few steps this week! He's been working on it the last few weeks, but had to hold onto furniture. Between him walking and his new words/sounds... I feel like I'm having an out of body experience. How is my little boy so big already?!

2. I'm so thankful Brody is a such a good eater. There's nothing this kid won't eat. He tried a bunch of new foods (and textures) this week and did wonderfully! We added cottage cheese, beef roast, mashed potatoes and braunschweiger to his list of favorites.

3. Brody has his LAST helmet appointment yesterday! As of 4:00 PM today, Lil Man will be helmet-free! I thought it wise to unleash the helmet-less dare devil on my watch instead of Miss Pam's. So all those horrifying injuries that I've been afraid of the last four month... well, they'll probably happen this weekend. God help us.

4. Mama Z and I started on Brody's Halloween costume this week. I am so balls-out excited about it, I may just die from a cuteness overload. Stay tuned. ;)

5. If you've seen me limping around all week, that's because I had half of both big toenails permanently removed. By far the most painful toe procedure I've ever had done, but it's going to be so worth it when they're all healed up. 

6. I've also been incredibly blessed to have an amazing support group in my life. This week... I struggled a great deal. Family, co-workers and others who don't owe me a damn thing have stepped it up, come to my aid and made my life a lot easier. Thank you, all of you. I'm forever in your debt.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Taking Stock.

Making: puppy cookies [recipes]
Cooking: kielbasa and homemade baby food
Drinking: coffee with York creamer
Reading: my Bloglovin' blogroll
Wanting: this rough patch to be over
Looking: for moms in my area interested in walking or playdates
Playing: Candy Crush like an addict
Wasting: valuable time while the children sleep
Sewing: Brody's Halloween costume
Wishing: I could fit back into my dress pants
Enjoying: the silence while my babies nap
Waiting: for all the unknowns in my life to play out
Liking: the new bird noises Lil Man discovered this week
Wondering: when to schedule Brody's 1st birthday party
Loving: my babies and all the time we've spent doing new things lately
Hoping: the rain will go away so we can go downtown to Pumpkinfest
Marvelling: at how much Brody has changed in the last couple months
Needing: to get off my buns and conquer my to do list
Smelling: cinnamon from my Scentsy burner
Wearing: my usual attire... sweatpants and a tshirt
Following: new Etsy shops as the holiday season approaches
Noticing: I need to stop and re-evaluate some things in my life
Knowing: God will get me through this
Thinking: how blessed I am
Bookmarking: great personal identities and birthday party ideas
Opening: yesterday's mail
Giggling: at Vine video compilations
Feeling: relaxed, yet a little anxious

Friday, October 4, 2013

Sunshine Friday

Sometimes... life is a little rough. Those days where it's a struggle to climb out of that debilitating funk and refocus attention towards the positive. We've all had 'em. As a working mom, I know I have less than 7 miles to tune out all the negativity from whatever may have happened earlier that day and get into happy mommy mode. Even though Brody is my own little ball of sunshine and always capable of bringing a smile to my face, my Friday posts are now dedicated to recapping all the moments during the week that made my life a little brighter... 

1. Lil Man turned 10-months old on Sunday. I can't believe my baby is growing up so fast! Check out his photo shoot. He's pretty adorable. ;)

2. Apparently, Brody is Thing 3.

3. Brody learned to climb this week. Oh goody. He crawled right up to the window ledge in the living room, pulled himself up and scooted right on there.

4. I also discovered that putting pieces of fabric in an empty wipes container can entertain the Energizer Bunny for 3-5 glorious minutes. And he loves rocks. Whatever.

5. In addition to learning how to climb, he apparently discovered that letting food and milk just run out of his mouth is freaking hilarious. He'll take a big swig of milk and open his mouth just enough for it to run down his face. Then during dinner the other night, his already been chewed casserole made it's way back out. Woooonderful. 

6. I scored ANOTHER free piece of furniture this week. A house in my neighborhood (kinda) had this wooden cubby/cabinet out at the end of the driveway for the taking. Thankfully a nice man stopped and helped me load it up in the back of my SUV. So in addition to my new storage space for the garage, I hung some hooks for dog leashes/collars and reorganized some bins. Yay clean garage!

7. Sadly, our department had to wish our dear Sarah farewell as she begins her new stay-at-home-mom gig. I'm definitely going to miss having another female/fellow mom/friend in the office but wish her the best! (We loaded up her office on Monday with our department children so she could have the extra practice.)

8. I had a wonderful time celebrating Asa's birthday and exploring Artprize last weekend. Read all about my adventure!

9. My fur child has claimed yet another piece of furniture in my house. I had just gotten done vacuuming all her hair off my bed and when I came back from putting Brody down for a nap, she decided to reclaim her domain. I think she forgets she's a dog sometimes too. She sleeps at night with her head on a pillow now. When I wake up in the morning, there's a furry face right next to mine. Adorable, yet another sign that she rules the roost.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Brody @ 10 Months: What He's Up To

My adorable lil bug turned 10-months old this past Sunday. Mind blowing. The amount of change I've seen in him over the last few months is incredible. Where did my baby go?!

During his belated 9-month wellness check on September 17, Brody measured 30.5 inches, had a head circumference of 46 cm and weighed in at 22 lbs 6 oz (100th, 70th and 85th percentiles respectively). I've definitely noticed his growth has slowed down over the last couple months and now that he's mobile, his legs and belly are slimming down. He's still wearing 18- and 24-month clothes comfortably.

I started Brody on milk over a month ago. Formula was just a bit too rich for him and once he was on milk, he stopped his post-meal spitting up immediately. He's doing so much better on "chunkier" food now. Before, if it wasn't puréed into a creamy consistency, he was not happy about it. Between mom, grandma and I, most of Brody's food is homemade and he's finally getting into people meals like casseroles (which he loves!).

Still the most awesomest baby ever. Bedtime falls anywhere between 7:30 and 8:30 and he wakes up between 5:45 and 6:30 AM. Right after breakfast, he's back down for a 2 hour nap within an hour of waking up. He takes an hour nap before lunch, another 2 hour nap after lunch and sometimes naps before or after dinner. He's a growing boy!

This kid is one of the fastest crawlers I've ever seen. He does. not. sit. still.... ever. He loves to explore and get into things he's not supposed to. He pulls himself up whenever he can and even took two steps the other day while holding onto the front of the couch.

Door stoppers, night lights and the dog bowl trump any toy you could give him. Nothing really holds his interest for more than 30 seconds which is exhausting and extremely frustrating during diaper changes when he wants to roll over the entire time. He loves his walker. Zora and my feet do not.

"Mama" has definitely been established in his vocabulary, but that's about it. Occasionally, I'll get a couple squeaky "blah blah blahs." Still a smiley little ham who flirts with everyone.

Brody's last head scan put him into the normal range, but at the high end. Since there's still a flat spot and he has room to grow in the helmet yet, we opted to keep it on him for a little bit longer. As much as I can't wait to be able to kiss his head and run my fingers through his super soft baby hair, there are a lot of perks to having the little dare devil wear a helmet.

Miss Pam is our hero. Brody's still doing very well and he loves his little buddy Landon.

Check out how much my lil man has grown since his eight, six and four month reviews and see all his 10-month photos here!
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